Occasionally, my daughter will ask me the question, "if you had all the money in the world, what would be the first thing you would buy?"
Impossible question really, because I will never have all the money in the world, but it's a fun thing to contemplate, and dream about.
And my answer is always the same.
I would buy a classic New Zealand yacht.
My grandfather - one of the true gentlemen of the old generation - was an Airforce man. But he loved the sea and he loved boats. Growing up in Marlborough gave us access to the Marlborough Sounds, and when Grandad retired from the Airforce he took on a job looking after the Sounds property of the Todd family, which included their beautiful classic New Zealand yacht, The Viking.
Grandad and Sir Bryan would go off for days at a time on sailing trips, across the Cook Strait, along the coasts of New Zealand. And so it was on the Viking and in the Marlborough Sounds that my love of the sea and old ships was cultivated.
Here is a much-loved photo of my Grandad; Roy Spencer, MBE, on the Viking.
When the Viking left the Marlborough Sounds and was on loan to the Maritime Museum in Auckland, we went to see her one day, while Nana and Grandad were staying with us. We laughed at the "Do Not Touch" signs on the sides of her, remembering those days in the Bay when we played on her. We had tea and drinks down in the cabin with her owners and got to see the amazing work they had done inside of refitting her walnut-wood-lined walls to the rich gold tones of Kauri.
She is a beautiful little ship and unforgettable.
In all my life I have never owned a boat, until this last summer when we bought a little sailing ship for our children.
I haven't seen the Viking again for over fifteen years. But everytime I pass a marina in Auckland, I am always looking for her.